Saturday, December 22, 2012

Favorite Comments of '12: Barry Garelick, cranberry, T M Widdershins, GC, and Hainish

On Math problems of the week: tasks for families in Investigations vs. Singapore Math

Barry Garelick said...

In Waterloo, Iowa, Investigations in Number, Data and Space, is being used and getting rave reviews, according to this article.

Here's a quote taken right from the article. Stop me if you've heard it before:

"Administrators describe the curriculum, published by Pearson Education, as providing rich, problem-based, student-centered lessons that foster inquiry and develop critical thinking skills. They believe the result of developing those skills will be increasing student achievement."

cranberry said...

Our public school uses Everyday Math. With 3 kids, I learned to ignore what the sheets outlined for family activities.

First, and most objectionable, the activities assumed that nothing the family might plan to do in that time might be a better use of time. You thought the kids could come home, have a small snack, play outside a bit to let off steam, quickly do a reasonable amount of homework, have dinner, take a bath, go to bed? No, no, no! You have to do a group project of measuring or counting miscellaneous objects.

The lack of respect for parents is ingrained. Instead of cooking dinner, organizing for the next day, paying bills, or making certain the homework got done, (and families often have more than one child), parents are supposed to spend chunks of valuable time on poorly planned make work.

Also, children are tired at the end of school. Homework is fine for reinforcing concepts already learned, under the guidance of an adult who understands the concepts. It is not the time to draft parents into forcing the kid to explore a new concept in the most inefficient way possible.

T M Widdershins said...
My children were victim to Investigations for most of their elementary experience. I found my parent involvement actually required me to purchase additional materials to fill in all the holes left by this curriculum. We have moved to a different state, with a more traditional curriculum. My son still struggles with the traditional algorithms that he needs to know. It's difficult to motivate a small boy to learn math all over again when he gets home from school. My kids hated the "group" activities these kinds of curriculums advocate. I am still angry about the money spent on this curriculum by my prior district which has only lined the pockets of Pearson Education -- but has certainly taught little to no math skills.

GC said...

The reality is many parents can't or won't be involved in their kids' educations. Trying to force parents into involvement harms students. I grew up in a large poor family with a sickly mother who had to work and take care of my invalid grandmother. I didn't get any academic help at home.

Luckily for me, I went to school in a country that had a traditional, sit in rows, whole class direct instruction method of education. I went home every day and knew how to do my homework because it was always reinforcing what I learned during the school day.

This kind of education that didn't demand parental involvement or expect me to spend a lot of time learning things for myself served me very well. When I went to school to some extent academic success or failure was in my own hands. As soon as you demand parental involvement or discovery type methods of learning, you immediately put underprivileged kids at a huge disadvantage. They don't have the help at home. They don't have a large base of knowledge that they can apply to methods of self-learning. So, the gap between the haves and have nots grows larger.

Education is supposed to be a great equalizer. Unfortunately modern methods of American education have made academic success much less likely for kids who don't get much help in the home. Success or failure is no longer in the student's hands. It is completely dependent on whether the parents can or will help.

I have a career that demands creativity and problem solving. These were never a problem for me despite the lack of focus on them in my education. I never had problems working with others or in groups despite never doing this in school (and being somewhat introverted). This is true for many millions of successful people around the world, who never did cooperative learning or never discussed a homework assignment with a parent. So, a lot of modern teaching methods really aren't necessary but they can be very harmful to kids who don't have help at home. They are probably one reason that social mobility has been in decline in the US.

Hainish said...
"There are plenty of studies that show how parental involvement increases a child's chance of success."

Yes...And instead of seeing this as a problem on the part of the education system, teachers see it as a problem on the part of the parents/society/the economy/what have you.

A school's duty is to equalize chances for its students, not to make them even more contingent on factors outside of their control. When you reward some students for having involved parents, you essentially punish others for having "chosen" wrong family to be born into.

1 comment:

momof4 said...

When my older kids were in ES, there was an after-school program (token fee) called Hands-On Science. After trying it, both said it was silly and a waste of time. They were wasting time doing things which could have been learned more efficiently - and this was at a high-performing ES with very-advantaged kids - who were the most likely to be able to "get" the discovery, groupwork stuff.